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How do judges determine the best interests of children for custody?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Child Custody & Parenting Time

During a divorce in New York emotions can run high. It is not easy ending a shared married life and starting a new one. However, if the divorce involves minor children the parents will not necessarily be completely separated. They will still be the parents to their children and will still need to continue to raise their children. How this is done depends on the child custody and visitation determinations though.

If the parents cannot agree on the custody and visitation issues, ultimately a judge will need to make the determination for them. When doing this, judges need to decide what is in the best interests of the children. This means that the well being of the children, not necessarily the parents, is the main consideration when making custody determinations.

Factors used to determine custody

This is not an easy decision and if judges need to make it for the parents, they will be doing so with what they are presented in trial. Once they receive the evidence, they will analyze a number of different factors, which include:

  • Which parent provided the cares for the children during the marriage
  • The parents’ parenting abilities to provide for the children’s needs
  • The parents’ health, both physical and mental
  • The parents’ work schedules and ability to provide care for the children
  • The children’s relationship with siblings and extended family members
  • The children’s preference if they are old enough and mature enough to express their preferences
  • Whether the parents can work together and encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • Whether there has been domestic abuse within the family and how that affects the children

Custody determinations in New York are very fact-specific determinations. Whether one parent will receive sole custody or the parents will share joint custody and also what a visitation schedule will look like depends on how the parents parented their children during the marriage. Every parenting situation is different so there is no set formula to determine custody. It is important to understand how these determinations are made though and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.